If you’re a Top Chef fan, then you likely know Chef Nick Elmi from his victory in season 11. But locals know him best as the chef behind the always-booked Laurel and it’s sister restaurant, ITV. The newest addition to Elmi’s empire is Royal Boucherie, a stylish Old-City brasserie that opened in late 2017.

Recently, we sat down with Elmi to hear his thoughts on the booming food scene here in Philadelphia.

Why have you chosen to open your restaurants here in Philadelphia? What do you love about the people/culture/food scene here?
Philadelphia has become my home over the past 19 years that I’ve lived here. I moved to Philadelphia when I was 19 and I immediately fell in love with the city. I love the realness of the people, the closeness of the culinary community, and the abundance and diversity of product available.

When you’re not working, what are your favorite places to eat in the city?
My kids and I are big sushi fans so we love to go to Royal Izakaya. We all love getting dumplings at Tom’s Dim Sum as well.

Is there an ingredient you use that would surprise people? An ingredient you avoid at all costs?
I love cooking with Daylily. We use them fresh, we’ll make a white kimchi with them, and also ferment the roots… they are very versatile and abundant in the Spring. An ingredient I avoid is green peppers. Don’t know, I’ve just never liked them! Even when I get sausage sandwiches at Home Depot on Columbus, I pick them out.

What should guests expect when they visit Royal Boucherie?
At Royal Boucherie, our guests can expect lighter versions of French fare with a focus on our raw bar program and our house-made charcuterie. Oh, and tons of champagne!

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